Q: Does the type of scene you’re writing affect your mood? What I mean is, if you’re writing a scene about a murder or someone dying, do you ever get depressed?

A: I’m a pretty happy, even-keeled guy, so what I write usually doesn’t affect my mood much. I’ve been known to write scenes of graphic horror and violence and then go into the next room and joyfully eat a tuna fish sandwich.

I do know I can write comedy and get a good case of the giggles. Then again, I’m not sure if it’s because what I wrote was funny or if it’s because I’d been working too hard.

I do recall once writing a rather touching scene between a young girl and her father and it kinda tugged at my heartstrings. I guess that one brought up some warm memories about my own daughter.

But sure, I once killed off a character I especially liked and felt a modicum of remorse: “Ah, that’s rather sad. I sure liked that guy.” Then I realized how ridiculous I was being. After all, it’s only make-believe, right? So I laughed at myself...then went and had myself another tuna sandwich.

Now, I’m not saying you should be as heartless and detached as yours truly. I honestly think it’s a good thing if you’re having an emotional reaction to what you’re writing. It means you care—or it means you’re reasonably unstable and need immediate psychiatric help. Either way, you’ve found the right career path!

Q: What do you think of some of the computer programs that supposedly make crafting a screenplay easier?

A: Hey, if they work for you, great. However, I feel many novice screenwriters fool themselves by thinking, “If I have that cool program, I’ll crank out a killer script!” Sorry, but it just doesn’t work that way. If you don’t have the initial talent to begin with (and believe me, most people don’t), there’s a good chance that none of those programs will make a darn bit of difference.

See, that’s precisely the problem with the screenwriting game nowadays. We’ve got Final Draft, Movie Magic, et al. (which are most definitely a necessity these days), but we also have all these plot generating/story outlining/character development programs. Now pretty much every Tom, Dick, and Mary thinks all they’ve got to do is come up with some half-baked idea, input it into their computer, click the mouse a few times and—voilĂ —all the work is done! Again, it just doesn’t work that way.

Any which way you slice it, writing a screenplay—one that could actually be viable in the marketplace—takes a lot of hard work. It also takes thought, planning, organization, and a steadfast belief in oneself. Face it, it takes guts.

Now, I’m not saying that these programs don’t have a place in a screenwriter’s toolkit, and I’m not saying these programs are a waste of time and/or money, but—and I might be completely wrong about this—I do think it’s necessary for all of us to learn how to craft a screenplay without all the “tech” stuff getting in the way. I just happen to think you’re shortchanging yourself when you let a computer program do most of the work. After all, toughing it out on your own is one of the most efficient ways for us to learn and grown as screenwriters. But hey, you gotta find out what works for YOU.

So go ahead, spend some of your hard-earned cash on the latest plot generating/story outlining/character development programs. Perhaps they’ll work for you. If they don’t, well, it’s all part of the learning curve, right?’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m just spouting off my opinion here, so if any of you have a testimonial regarding the effectiveness of any of those plot generating/story outlining/character development programs, then please feel free to send ‘em my way.

Finally, a bit of silliness...

Here's something I recently found posted on a screenwriting/filmmaking forum (unedited):

Fiction Writter for hire
I am looking for an opportunity to compose a short storie and turn it into a film.

I don’t mean to poke fun at the poor guy who posted that, but c’mon...

1 comment:

That Writer Dave said...

Well I've tried a bunch of them. Programs that pretended to be index cards, programs that let you track character development, pretty much any sort of outlining tool--I've tried it.

And you know what I'm using now? A cork board, tacks, and index cards. I always felt it was outdated until I actually tried it... and voila! It works.

And I feel more of a connection to it, maybe because of the hands-on nature. Whatever it is, I like it. Plus I don't have to worry about tracking down all the different outlining files on my computer. Instead I just hang a cork board right above my lap top and I know where I'm going.